I’ve got behind with reviewing so where there’s a short review I’m combining it with another, hoping February’s books won’t seep too far into March. And I’ve caught up with reading blog posts now – sorry if I haven’t Liked or commented on all of yours but I had to be highly selective in order to catch up there. From now on, I will read more of them.

Simon Garfield – “On the Map: Why the World Looks the Way it Does”

(17 July 2018, charity shop)

A fabulous book which takes a chronological look at map-making from the earliest Ancient productions and discussions up to Google Maps and GPS. Longer chapters are interspersed with shorter pieces on lighter subjects, and it covers all sorts of things, from the Mappa Mundi to map thieves, dealers and collectors, as well as map-makers.

The piece on the Thames pleasingly included some of the landmarks, including Three Cranes, that were in “Mudlarking” (Bookish Beck collects synchronicity in the books she reads and I’ve been happy to notice some this month in my own reading). Garfield takes part in the book himself, but in a good and appropriate way (i.e. not some emotional stuff shoe-horned in), for example going on a map-reading course. There’s also a section on the “Masquerade” treasure hunt, which seems to go with pirate maps in terms of the fantastic being mapped onto the real.

There were nice reproductions of maps and details printed on the paper rather than on shiny plates, and very nicely done, the section breaks being tailored to the chapter, for example folded maps in one section, a line drawing of the Thames in another. So a nice object with good contents.

John Carter and Nicolas Barker – “ABC for Book Collectors”

(17 July 2018, charity shop)

The 2004 edition of this well-reputed but also witty and readable book about how books are constructed and sold. There are memories of John Carter, who died in 1976, in the introduction, and memories throughout of the greats of cataloguing and book collecting. I am not sure which edition I read when I started being a Special Collections Library Assistant at Birmingham University in 1992, but I know I devoured it then and I was very happy to find myself this copy. The parts on pamphlets in particular reminded me of the amazing still-bound and not broken up collections of religious pamphlets we held there.

The book goes back to Incunabula from the cradle of publishing – and indeed to manuscripts before those – and up to Internet selling and eBay. The endpapers and various other features are labelled as such within the book, which always brings a little smile. An invaluable source if you’re interested in this world.